Numbers 33:4
For the Egyptians buried all their firstborn, which the LORD had smitten among them: on their gods also the LORD executed judgments.
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33:1-49 This is a brief review of the travels of the children of Israel through the wilderness. It is a memorable history. In their travels towards Canaan they were continually on the remove. Such is our state in this world; we have here no continuing city, and all our removes in this world are but from one part a desert to another. They were led to and fro, forward and backward, yet were all the while under the direction of the pillar of cloud and fire. God led them about, yet led them the right way. The way God takes in bringing his people to himself is always the best way, though it does not always seem to us the nearest way. Former events are mentioned. Thus we ought to keep in mind the providences of God concerning us and families, us and our land, and the many instances of that Divine care which has led us, and fed us, and kept us all our days hitherto. Few periods of our lives can be thought upon, without reminding us of the Lord's goodness, and our own ingratitude and disobedience: his kindness leaves us without excuse for our sins. We could not wish to travel over again the stages we have passed, unless we could hope, by the grace of God, to shun the sins we then committed, and to embrace such opportunities of doing good as we have let slip. Soon will our wanderings end, and our eternal state be fixed beyond recall; how important then is the present moment! Happy are those whom the Lord now guides with his counsel, and will at length receive to his glory. To this happiness the gospel calls us. Behold now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation. Let sinners seize the opportunity, and flee for refuge to the hope set before them. Let us redeem our time, to glorify God and serve our generation; and he will carry us safely through all, to his eternal kingdom.This list was written out by Moses at God's command Numbers 33:2, doubtless as a memorial of God's providential care for His people throughout this long and trying period.

Numbers 33:3-6. For these places, see the marginal reference.

4. upon their gods—used either according to Scripture phraseology to denote their rulers (the first-born of the king and his princes) or the idolatrous objects of Egyptian worship. Upon their gods; either,

1. Their princes and rulers, who are sometimes called gods in Scripture; and so this is added by way of amplification, God slew their first-born; not only of the meaner sort, but even of their king and princes. Or,

2. Their false gods, to wit, those beasts which the brutish Egyptians worshipped as gods, which were killed with the rest, for the first-born both of men and beasts were then killed, Exodus 13:5. See Poole "Exodus 12:12"; See Poole "Exodus 18:11". For the Egyptians buried all their firstborn, which the Lord had smitten among them,.... Which contributed much to the more easy and safe deliverance of the children of Israel; for their hearts were heavy with sorrow, and their hands were full, and they had other work to do, namely, to bury their dead, than to molest Israel; and besides, they knew it was for detaining them this stroke came upon them:

upon their gods also the Lord executed judgments; they were moved at the presence, and by the power of God, and fell and were dashed to pieces, as the idols of the same land were in later times, see Isaiah 19:1 and this still the more intimidated and frightened the Egyptians, that they dared not attempt to hinder the departure of the Israelites from them. The Targum of Jonathan says, the Word of the Lord did this; and adds, their molten idols became soft, their strong idols were mutilated, their earthen idols were diminished, their wooden idols became ashes, and those of beasts died.

For the Egyptians buried all their firstborn, which the LORD had smitten among them: upon their {b} gods also the LORD executed judgments.

(b) Either meaning their idols, or their men of authority.

Verse 4. - Buried all their first-born, which the Lord had smitten among them. Literally, "were burying (Septuagint, ἔθαπτον) those whom the Lord had smitten among them, viz., all the first-born." The fact that the Egyptians were so universally employed about the funeral rites of their first-born - rites to which they paid such extreme attention - seems to be mentioned here as supplying one reason at least why the Israelites began their outward march without opposition. It is in perfect accordance with what we know of the Egyptians, that all other passions and interests should give place for the time to the necessary care for the departed. Upon their gods also the Lord executed judgments. See on Exodus 12:12, and cf. Isaiah 19:1. The false deities of Egypt, having no existence except in the imaginations of men, could only be affected within the sphere of those imaginations, i.e., by being made contemptible in the eyes of those who feared them. Moses gave the Manassites the land which was conquered by them; in fact, the whole of the kingdom of Bashan, including not only the province of Bashan, but the northern half of Gilead (see at Numbers 21:33-34). Of this the sons of Machir received Gilead, the modern Jebel Ajlun, between the Jabbok (Zerka) and the Mandhur (Hieromax, Jarmuk), because they had taken it and driven out the Amorites and destroyed them (see Deuteronomy 3:13). The imperfects in Numbers 32:39 are to be understood in the sense of pluperfects, the different parts being linked together by w consec. according to the simple style of the Semitic historical writings explained in the note on Genesis 2:19, and the leading thought being preceded by the clauses which explain it, instead of their being logically subordinated to it. "The sons of Machir went to Gilead and took it...and Moses gave," etc., instead of "Moses gave Gilead to the sons of Machir, who had gone thither and taken it..." The words בּהּ ויּשׁב, "Machir dwelt therein (in Gilead)," do not point to a later period than the time of Moses, but simply state that the Machirites took possession of Gilead. As soon as Moses had given them the conquered land for their possession, they no doubt brought their families, like the Gadites and Reubenites, and settled them in fortified towns, that they might dwell there in safety, whilst the fighting men helped the other tribes to conquer Canaan. ישׁב signifies not merely "to dwell," but literally to place oneself, or settle down (e.g., Genesis 36:8, etc.), and is even applied to the temporary sojourn of the Israelites in particular encampments (Numbers 20:1). - Machir (Numbers 32:40): for the sons of Machir, or Machirites (Numbers 26:29). But as Gilead does not mean the whole of the land with this name, but only the northern half, so the sons of Machir are not the whole of his posterity, but simply those who formed the family of Machirites which bore its father's name (Numbers 26:29), i.e., the seven fathers' houses or divisions of the family, the heads of which are named in 1 Chronicles 5:24. The other descendants of Machir through Gilead, who formed the six families of Gilead mentioned in Numbers 26:29-33, and Joshua 17:2, received their inheritance in Canaan proper (Joshua 17).
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